Gifts From My Grandmothers & My Garden

“…The most treasured things passed down from generation to generation are the family recipes.” 

I come from a long line of exceptional women — both in and out of the kitchen. Growing up, I was always fed amazing food without having to cook. This may be why I have moments when I’m a culinary train wreck.


My mixed-European heritage was fully-embraced by the women who’ve preceded me in our family.  My paternal grandmother could turn German flavors like sauerbraten, spatzle, and potato pancakes with her eyes closed.  Her Irish stews and her soda bread were to die for. (I’ll share those soon!)

My other grandmother was Italian and made magic with her homemade raviolis, lasagna, ziti and sauces. My mouth waters remembering how their houses would smell; how their food was almost medicinal in the way it could make you feel comfort.

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But I was stupid.  When my grandmothers were alive, I had no interest in learning the wonderful things they wanted to teach me.  My father’s mother died when I was 16 and in the throws of caring more about boys, music, and college.

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My other grandmother died when I was 31.  Back then, I was more concerned with my career and the family I was about to create.  Earlier, when she was well enough to share her gift with me I thought:  why do I need to know how to cook?  I’m never going to need to know how to do that!!  I’m going to be a modern career girl, after all!

I didn’t realize that I was slamming a treasure box closed.

I know.  Stupid.

If you’re not smart, be lucky.  I am lucky because I still have my mom.  She has preserved, perfected and melded both of my grandmothers’ techniques and talents.  So when my garden started to yield a beautiful bounty of veggies, I called mom.


Let me be clear: my house is the house where plants come to die. Nothing green is safe in my presence.  But when we moved to our new home two years ago, I saw raised flower beds surrounded by a deer-proof fence and thought: this is my chance!

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After two summers of successes and terrifically ugly failures, I found a beautiful array of eggplants, peppers, and oh-so-many tomatoes this week.

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My mom suggested Grandma’s Stewed Eggplant.  I was wary. My 7-year-old is vehement about his hatred of all things eggplant.  But when he saw me pluck the eggplant he helped me plant in our garden, even he was excited.

I was excited, too.  As I cooked tonight, I could feel my grandmother in my kitchen with me.  She died just a few days after we found out we would be blessed with our oldest child. I’ve always wished she could have met our children.  So this was actually an emotional recipe for me to make and I really wanted the kids to love this.

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Grandma’s Stewed Eggplant

  • 2 eggplants, cubed and peeled (I used one really fat, big eggplant)
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 3 onions diced or sliced (my mom prefers diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes (diced)
  1. Saute eggplants, onions, garlic and peppers in the olive oil until eggplant is soft.
  2. Add tomatoes, salt, oregano.
  3. Cover and cook for 20 minutes until cooked through
         *if it’s too watery, add flour

I didn’t follow this exactly.  I had a lot of tomatoes that needed to be used today.  So I used one can of diced tomatoes, and then diced up 5 or 6 small fresh tomatoes from the garden and tossed them into the mix.  I also used a bit more oregano, to taste.  Oh… and I didn’t need to add flour.  Isn’t it just beautiful?!?

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My mom suggested serving this on hard rolls or crostini with some melted mozzarella and parmesan cheese.  She even said you can serve it on sandwiches cold– sort of like a relish.  I think these are great ideas and I’ll try them in the future, but I chose to serve it over spaghetti and sprinkled parmesan on it in order to pass it off on my more-discerning family.  (Everything tastes great on spaghetti, right?!)

It was a HIT!

Everyone LOVED this, even our 7-year-old who was sure to redeclare his steadfast hate of eggplant (with this one exception!) The mixture was a hearty, flavorful, veggie-rich sauce. The eggplant was not bitter at all.  It was so soft, it could be mistaken for sauteed mushrooms.  The oregano married the eggplant and peppers brilliantly.

I couldn’t wait to call my mom to tell her the results. She was as happy as I was that it was a success.

I think Grandma would have been proud — in more ways than one.  I hope so.

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Simple Shrimp and Veggie Risotto

Wow!  What a busy August it has been.

The kids and I took a road trip and were away for two weeks.  Then we returned to crazy Back-To-School mode.  Phew!  I’m pooped!

And while I’ve been cooking (we DO have to eat, after all!) I haven’t been blogging.  I’m just too worn out at the end of the day to actually think.

But I made something tonight that I wanted to share with you.  As usual, it was pretty easy. I did most of the prep work while the kids told me about their day and did homework. Then I cooked it while I let them watch a show.

My daughter came down with a stomach bug this morning and was on the BRAT diet all day.  So I knew she needed to have rice for dinner.  I found some Arborio Rice in my pantry and decided to run with it — I would make plain risotto for her and something a little more substantial for my guys. 


Plus, I had a ton of veggies in my fridge that were on the fringe.  It was either use `em, or lose `em.  So I came up with this dish: 

Shrimp and Veggie Risotto


  • 1 cup risotto
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bag of frozen, raw shrimp
  • 1 heaping Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 green zucchini squash, chopped
  • 1 yellow zucchini squash, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms, quartered
  • salt
  • pepper
  • shredded parmesan cheese (to sprinkle on top)
Start by getting the risotto going. In a heavy saucepan, put 2 Tbsp olive oil and melt 1 Tbsp butter with it. Saute the onion.  ImageWhen the onion is opaque, add the cup of arborio rice and saute that for 2 minutes.  Then, start adding your chicken broth — over low heat, add 1 cup at a time and allow it to come to a boil until the liquid is absorbed.  ImageYou’ll need to keep an eye on this and stir it regularly so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan.
*Note:  I’ve seen recipes that instruct people heat the chicken broth in a separate sauce pan and adding it a little at a time. I’ve done this before, and found it doesn’t really make a big difference in the outcome.  So I just use the chicken broth straight from the container.  
After adding your first cup of chicken broth to the risotto — get started on the shrimp and veggies.  ImageSaute the garlic in remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil. Once the garlic is becoming more clear, add your tomatoes, salt and pepper and allow them to start to cook down (but not too much!)


As the tomatoes are starting to soften, add your zucchini squash, mushroom and shrimp and cook it until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. (the shrimp and veggies took about 15 minutes to cook.)   
Ohhhhh — this was SO pretty and smelled SO good!!
Once the veggies and shrimp are cooked through and the risotto is deliciously creamy — you’re ready to serve.  I put a scoop of risotto into a bowl and then a heaping scoop of shrimp and veggies on top.  Sprinkled with a little parmesan cheese and – YUM!
Personally, I thought this was delicious.  It was creamy and chock-full-of-veggies.  Plus, you can make it without the shrimp and substitute vegetable broth to make a vegetarian meal.  I was hopeful the kids would like it, too. So — moment of truth.  How’d the Hubs and the kids take to it???
  • The Hubs loved it, saying ‘It’s great.’
  • My 3 year old didn’t eat the shrimp and veggies since she was on a bland diet. But she loved her plain risotto and asked for seconds.
  • My 5 year old was in love.  He ate the entire bowl in record time.
  • My 7 year old ate it under duress (this is how he does EVERYTHING these days.  Even trying to get him ready for a trip to the pool turns me into a broken record: “Put your bathing suit on.  Put your bathing suit on.  Put your bathing suit on.”) He complained about how ‘EVERYONE’ knows he HATES zucchini and how DARE I give him zucchini!!!!  (The NERVE!!!)  I asked him to give it a try and promised he would not get dessert if he kept up his Oscar-worthy performance.  Low-and-behold… he actually didn’t hate it.  He ate it.  And if he wasn’t so set on being so difficult about EVERYTHING these days… he may have even had seconds.

I hope that getting back into the school routine gets me back on the blog routine.  I’ve missed writing these past few weeks.  The cooking…. well…. not so much!  LOL!

Happy eating!

Bangin’ Broccoli: Two Recipes to Try

Broccoli’s Bad Rep


In my humble opinion, broccoli gets a bad rep.


Maybe we can blame that on President George H.W. Bush. Maybe it’s because it looks kind of weird.  Whatever.  It’s delicious — and versatile! 

And…. my kids have grown (pun intended) to love it.

My 3yo daughter, whose most recent favorite words are ‘I don’t wanna eat it,’ will devour a plate of broccoli and pretty much any veggie.  But she won’t touch a strawberry. Or a banana. (I know. Freakish.)

If I leave a plate of broccoli and other veggies on our counter with some dip, my kids will snack on it between meals. They’re growing.  They’re hungry.  If it’s there in front of them, and promoted as a ‘snack’, they eat it. (This is why you won’t find a candy dish or cookie jar on my counter.)

But I know that not everyone is as big a fan of the green stuff.  So I thought I’d share two recipes you might like to try to load your kids on the broccoli bandwagon.

Two Recipes to Try

A few nights ago, I thought I’d try something new.  So I grilled broccoli.  I’ll get to that in a moment.  But the real favorite in our house is Broccoli Salad. My kids gobble it up, it’s perfect for potlucks, and I’ve given this recipe out more times than I can count. So let’s start there.  

Broccoli Salad


This recipe may seem similar to other broccoli salad recipes you’ve seen because I tend to take a bunch of recipes and mix them together to come up with a dish for my family.


  • 1 bunch broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • 1 cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 4 Tbps honey
  • Chopped red onion (to taste)
  • Handful of slivered almonds
  • 6-7 slices of bacon, crumbled (or about a 1/3 cup bacon bits)
  • Handful of raisins
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

How to:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the mayo, vinegar and honey.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Toss to coat with the dressing.

Pretty easy, right?   I served it with grilled boneless pork chops (sprinkled with a little onion powder, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning then seared on the grill over high heat and cooked the rest of the way through over low heat) and some grilled mini bell peppers (tossed with olive oil and garlic powder.) 

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Everyone at our table cleaned their plate tonight.  We have a winner!

Grilled Parmesan Broccoli 

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One night, I was planning to grill out and found a couple of bunches of broccoli that needed to be used.  So I stumbled across this recipe for Grilled Broccoli| Taste of Home Recipes.

I followed this recipe pretty closely (except I used my grill pan) so I’m not going to rehash it here.  As in previous posts, I like to send you to the site in order to help out my fellow home chefs and bloggers. 😉

I served it with some grilled chicken, and we all liked it.  It was very good.  photo 4-6But, truth be told, we thought it was a bit too salty because of all of the parmesan cheese.  I think, the next time, I’d still marinade and grill the broccoli, but just toss some shaved parmesan on it AFTER it’s been grilled and is still warm.

So if broccoli isn’t your cup of tea (or your child’s favorite veggie)… try it a new way.  You might find that you (or they!) like it afterall!

Happy eating!


Yes — My Kids Actually Ate This!!

Mrs. Mom Goes To Washington (with the kids!)


I love living near Washington, D.C.  When it’s summer and you’re running Camp Mommy and rain is in the forecast, you need to look no further than the National Mall for hours of kid-friendly entertainment.

So when the meteorologist said storms were in the forecast today, we bagged our plans to head to Six Flags and went to the National Museum of the American Indian instead.  I had heard a lot of wonderful things about this museum, not the least of which is the great hands-on, interactive children’s exhibit room.  I’d also heard that this museum serves up some of the best, most-interesting museum food on the National Mall.  Immediately, I was intrigued and thought this cafe has blog-potential!

We had a great time at the family story time, touring the exhibits and learning about various Native American lifestyles. They we hit the cafe and here’s what we ate:

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If you can’t tell from the picture, that’s a Buffalo Burger, Baby Octopus Ceviche, Chicken Mole Tacos, Fried Plantains, and Roasted Squash.

I didn’t make any of this, so I can’t offer up any recipes here, but my kids loved it.

Let’s get the elephant out of the room here — Baby Octopus Ceviche?!?!  Even I don’t eat that!!!  And I had no intention of buying it.  Seriously.  I didn’t even want to look at it!  photo 2-9But to say my 5yo was BEGGING me for it is a gross understatement.  I was shocked — this is the kid who didn’t want to eat salmon the other night!  And I was almost embarrassed by the way he was telling me over-and-over-and-over again how much he wanted to eat OCTOPUS in front of all of these tourists who were looking at me with the obvious expression of, “Lady, your kid is WEIRD!!”   Frankly, I secretly agreed with them.  But I do not want to discourage my kids in any way from trying something new, so we bought it.  And, of course, I had to try it along with them because our rule is that you don’t have to like it, but you have to try it.  I was NOT looking forward to eating it.  But we all tried it and the kids all loved it!  I was a bit lukewarm — after all, it’s baby OCTOPUS!  With TENTACLES!  The visuals are just too much for me.


Then there were the Buffalo Burgers.  I didn’t even get to try these, because all three of my kids devoured them!  photo 3-7I guess they’re just like having a cheeseburger — but I was shocked by the mere thought of them eating something called ‘buffalo.’  It’s not part of our daily vernacular.  Chicken. Beef.  Pork.  Those are ‘normal’ things to eat in our house.  Buffalo… not so much.

photo 4-4The Chicken Mole Tacos were a hit with my boys, but had a bit too much kick for my daughter.  I really enjoyed these. They came with a side of roasted squash (also a hit!) and some fried plantains.

I purchased the fried plantains for my 7yo who eats, literally, a bunch of bananas in a day.  I mean a real, bonafide BUNCH of bananas.  I regularly find banana peels all over the house because he leaves them in his wake as he grows daily by the inch.  But when it came to the plantains, he was like ‘meh.’  Take `em or leave `em.  The other kids and I were the complete opposite.  We loved them!  I mean — c’mon!  They’re like candy!

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I can’t say how proud I am of the kids for trying these new and unique flavors today. I actually prepped them for the experience as we rode downtown on the Metro, trying to get them excited about the idea of taking a fun adventure with new experiences and new food.  For being such good sports… I rewarded my good mommy-food-blog-soldiers with a trip to the Hubs’ office and a stop at FroYo.

It never hurts to sweeten the deal, does it?

Happy eating!


I hate it! Wait. No! I love it!

The Case of the Clashing Taste Buds

My kids are quite vocal.  If they like or dislike something, they’ll let you know it.  Loudly.

Luckily, they’re all pretty good eaters. And like most kids, if they don’t like something, they REALLY don’t like it.  So mealtime can get pretty rowdy.

The big problem I face is when the likes-and-dislikes of one of my children clashes with the likes-and-dislikes of another. Take tonight’s meal, for example.

Grilled Salmon, Orzo with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Steamed Green Beans


There was a point in time when all three of my kids loved salmon.  I swear!  To this day, the favored breakfast in our house is bagels and lox.  But at some point, two of the kids have had a change of heart and refuse to eat salmon for dinner.

I’ve always prepared it the same way — brushed with a little olive oil and sprinkled with Italian seasoning then baked or grilled.


My 7yo still loves it.  But my two little ones are adamantly anti-grilled salmon. That hasn’t stopped me from making it.  The Hubs and I love it, and so does our oldest.  I feel like the others will get back to their senses — eventually.  They will.  Right???  (tonight, promises of dessert coerced the 5yo to finish his meal… but the 3yo was unwavering in her refusal.)

I also retested some old waters with tonight’s side dish — the orzo.  Most nights, my 5yo is my most adventurous eater.  But when it comes to orzo he “HATES, HATES, HATES, HATES IT!” (his words, not mine – even though ‘hate’ is officially a bad word around here.)

So tonight, I told him that I know he doesn’t like orzo but that I prepared it a little differently than in the past and asked him to try it.  Spoiler Alert:  He LOVED IT!


Orzo With Sun Dried Tomatoes (Serves 4)

  • Box of Orzo
  • 3 Tbsp Sun Dried Tomato Bruschetta (store-bought packed in olive oil)
  • Chopped green onions (to taste)
  • handful of shredded parmesan cheese (I used low-fat)
  • salt and pepper

Boil orzo until it’s al dente.  Drain and rise with cold water until it’s cool to the touch.  Toss with the tomatoes, onions, cheese, salt and pepper.  Serve.

The Results:  Everyone liked this dish. Everyone, that is, *except* my 7yo who usually LOVES orzo and has asked me to put orzo salads into his lunch box!!  He didn’t like the sun dried tomatoes!  ARRRGGGGHHHH!!!  How frustrating!  I was so close!  So! Close!

But, for me, the lesson here is to never stop trying to get the kids to try a new dish. Even if they don’t like a specific ingredient, they may like it if it’s prepared differently.  Maybe I’ll do that with the salmon next time.

Until then… happy eatings!


Defending the Caveman

Flirting with Paleo   


The Hubs can attest to this:  I am a flirt.

I flirt all of the time — with various notions.

I flirt with the idea of exercising more.  I flirt with the idea of saving more money. I flirt with the idea of posting on this blog everyday. Fail. Fail. Fail.

And now I’m flirting with the idea of going caveman, and trying the Paleo Diet.

Sorry if this is TMI but I have a lot of friends who, like me, are becoming ‘women of a certain age.’  We all complain about the same things: weight issues & health issues.  My friends who have made the switch to Paleo swear it’s made differences in their lives.  Some post amazing pictures of their physical transformations all over Facebook.  Others talk about how it’s helped improve their overall health and well-being.  It’s pretty inspiring. 

Still, I can’t help but imagine how difficult it must be to change one’s diet so radically, especially when children are involved.

I haven’t posted in a few days because I haven’t had much to write about. My son turned 7 the other day, so there was a lot of celebratory eating going on during his week-long birthday bonanza:  pizza, chicken nuggets, ice cream cake.  You know the drill.  Not to mention the fact that we’ve been at the pool almost every night and taking a lot of fun day-trips, so we’ve had our fair share of (gasp!) fast-food.  (I know, I know… Bad Mommy. Slapping my wrist right now for you.)

But I’m intrigued. So I gave a Paleo-inspired meal a try. Not too bad: 

Paleo-Inspired Slow-Cooker Coconut Chicken


  • Put a bag of baby carrots into slow cooker.
  • Put 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs on top. 
  • Cover with a can of coconut milk
  • Add 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Add any herbs you feel like and have on hand: I put some thyme, oregano, basil and garlic.  (in hindsight, I wish I had thrown in a pinch of garam masala instead and made a coconut curry.)
  • Cook on high for 4-5 hours until chicken is done.

I served it with fresh chopped tomatoes tossed with basil (Paleo) and brown rice (not Paleo, but keeps the kids happy.)  

My husband really enjoyed this and 2/3 of my three birds enjoyed it too.  The chicken was so moist and tender. The carrots were so sweet — almost like candy.  My now-7-year-old was the one who complained. But I think if I made it again, he’d enjoy it.  And I think he would have liked it with the curry seasoning.  

So what do you guys out there in blog-land think?  To Paleo or not to Paleo?  That is the question.  Would you do it?  Have you?  Any tips you can share on how to get started? Any websites you would recommend that wouldn’t require me selling my daughter in exchange for some recipes and advice? Reply if you can… and help a girlfriend out.  🙂 

In the meantime… happy eatings!  


Make Ahead Meals: Part 4 — Low and Slow (but quick and easy!!)

Back to Basics


Crock Pot BBQ Ribs & Spinach Salad with Brown Rice

OK — so cold soups aren’t your cup of tea?  Let’s get back to basic, old-school family dinners.  Let’s get back to Old Trusty – The Crock Pot.

I thought this recipe for BBQ Ribs would be just what my family craves as a break from the more unconventional meals we have had lately.  After all, I already know my family loves pulled pork. But I’ve never made ribs in my crock pot and wasn’t quite sure how it would work.

I usually post what ingredients I use and how I made the dish — but for this post, I followed the recipe step-by-step. Following directions is not easy for me (just ask any of my teachers over the years!) but I really felt like I had something to learn here.  So I’m linking to the recipe again to make sure my lovely co-blogger can get some well-deserved credit for her recipe.

It could not have been easier.  It, literally, took me 3 minutes to put this all into the crock pot and turn it on.  And the ribs were DELICIOUS!!!  No joke — everyone asked for 2nd helpings!  The ribs were moist and succulent and fell off the bone.

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The key was standing them on their end in the crock pot — like they’re a picket fence — and cooking them for 8 hours on low. Brushing them with some additional BBQ sauce before serving really added a little somthin’-somethin’.

Now, my main dish was all set. But I had NO idea what to make for a side.

So I hit the pantry — and here’s where I got a little more creative with some help from my friends on the internet.  A quick google search for “Rice + Spinach + Salad” came up with some nice options. So I took a couple of those recipes (including this one) and combined them and tweaked them to come up with this:

Spinach Salad with Brown Rice:

Spinach Salad with Brown Rice

Spinach Salad with Brown Rice

For the salad….

  • Boil-in-a-Bag Brown Rice
  • about 1/2 of a bag of fresh Spinach (chopped)
  • sprinkling of feta cheese
  • Handful of slivered almonds
  • Red Onion (about 1/4 of a large red onion)
  • Cilantro (handful)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • fresh-ground pepper

To prepare:  Boil the rice according to the package directions.  While the rice is boiling, make your dressing in a jar or cruet so it emulsifies.  Then put the salad ingredients into a bowl.  When the rice is done cooking, run it under cold water. (I squeezed the bag of rice to remove any excess liquid.)  Toss the rice into the salad bowl and drizzle with the dressing (I only used about 1/3 of what I made.)

The results:  my entire family loved this recipe.  I was surprised that the Hubs liked it, because he notoriously dislikes brown rice.  But, he loved it!


This pairing of ribs and rice salad will definitely go into our rotation!

Crock Pot BBQ Ribs & Spinach Salad with Rice

Crock Pot BBQ Ribs & Spinach Salad with Rice

Guess what — I’m beat.  This has been a lot of cooking (and blogging!)  So I’m taking tomorrow night off to have dinner with friends!  The Hubs and kids can fend for themselves.  I’d say there are leftovers… but there aren’t!

Chicken Nuggets it is!  (yes… that happens in our house.  A. LOT.)

Happy Eatings!


Make Ahead Meals: Part 3 — The Chill-Out, No-Cook Dinner

The 5pm Chill-Out

A Rare Occurrence: Blogging at 5pm

A Rare Occurrence: Relaxing at 5pm

It’s 5:05pm on a Tuesday night and — guess what! — I’m not cooking!!

It’s a beautiful evening here and my three birds and I would, ordinarily, be at our pool but it’s a little chilly.  So I’m sitting on my back deck enjoying the (rare) sounds of the kids playing nicely together and a glass of water after doing some gardening.  Now, I’m sitting down to write because tonight’s dinner has been done and ready for HOURS! (I’m starting to dig this whole ‘make-ahead’ thing!)

It took about 10 minutes to make the majority of the meal last night. This morning, I put on PBS Kids so I could take a few minutes more to add the finishing touches.


The rest of today was spent outside with the kids: preschool soccer practice, a picnic play date at the park, a quick trip to Target, more park time.

Pretty great day — aside from the fact that I almost set my house on fire while trying to steam an artichoke in a wooden steamer basket. But we won’t tell the Hubs about that.

I digress.

So now, it’s time to sit down and recount just how this glorious moment came to be!

(Moment of truth: no sooner did I get to this point in my writing, then the Hungry, Hungry Kiddos came screaming to me about their hunger!  My Moment of Zen is over.)

Chilled Cucumber Soup, Prosciutto and White Bean Spread on Crostini, with Tossed Salad

Chilled Cucumber Soup, Prosciutto & White Bean Spread on Toast, Tossed Salad

Chilled Cucumber Soup, Prosciutto & White Bean Spread on Toast, Tossed Salad

Tonight’s meal was ‘Summer on a Plate’ and may be one of the prettiest dinners I’ve ever made.  But, in all honesty, I didn’t think anyone in our house would like it, let alone eat it. Even me.  I mean, it’s not exactly the type of meal we have regularly.

But I loved how easy it was. And while I usually give mad props to my Crock Pot, my Cuisinart food processor was the real star of this no-cook meal. (great for those hot summer nights when you don’t want to heat things up!)

Chilled Cucumber Soup (I loosely based it on several recipes, including this Martha Stewart recipe)

  • 3 cucumbers chopped
  • 2 6oz containers plain Greek Yogurt
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • parsley (I put this into the mixer and used some as garnish)
  • splash of lemon juice
  • cumin (about 1 tsp)
  • fresh mint leaves (about 1 tsp)

Put it all into the food processor and pulse until blended throughly. Chill.  Serve. (I chilled overnight, but I’d suggest waiting to add the lemon juice until shortly before serving.)

Prosciutto & White Bean Spread on Crostini:  (loosely based on this recipe

Prosciutto & White Bean Spread on Crostini

Prosciutto & White Bean Spread on Crostini

  • 2 cans cannellini beans (1 can drained, 1 can undrained)
  • 2 cloves garlic (to taste)
  • pinch of rosemary
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • drizzle of olive oil until you get the consistency you like

photo-63Put all of the ingredients into the food processor and blend.  Chill. (This took me about 5 minutes, and could stay a couple of days in the fridge if refrigerated.)

Other recipes tell you how to make Crostini, but I kept it simple by using Melba Toast instead. So I spread the white bean dip onto the Melba Toast, topped it with some thin-sliced prosciutto, and sprinkled some parsley on top.  I ‘plated’ this dish soon after blending the White Bean Spread, and refrigerated it until it was time for dinner.

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Tossed Salad: made with a variety of lettuces, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced radishes, bleu cheese, drizzle of olive oil and squirt of lemon juice.

The Results

  1. Cucumber Soup:  My kids love cucumbers, which is why I chose this chilled soup. So I should have known they would love it. But my husband really, REALLY didn’t like it.  He didn’t like the yogurt-texture of the ‘soup.’  And I think I’d pass on the lemon juice the next time.  It made the soup a bit too sour.
  2. Prosciutto & White Bean Spread on Crostini:  Everyone really liked this dish — even my 6yo who HATES white beans.  (I told him what he was eating after he gave me the thumbs up and said it was ‘delish!’)  But I personally think it was a bit too much like an appetizer.  So, the next time, I think I’d skip the salad and put the white bean spread onto some good bread with the prosciutto, some arugula, slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella.

***Note:  if you want to make this meal vegetarian and skip the prosciutto, I think the spread was really good and could stand on its own when paired with the Melba Toast or a good baguette or crostini.***

It was fun to make this meal – and even more fun to see what how the kids reacted to it. I think they liked how different it was from what we usually eat.  I liked how easy it was to

We ate it outside, which seemed appropriate on this beautiful night.  And, to add to the summery feel, we ate a bowl full of cherries for dessert.  A great way to end our ‘chill-out’ day.

Life is a bowl full of cherries...

Life is a bowl full of cherries…

Plans are already underway for another ‘make-ahead’ meal for tomorrow!

In the meantime, happy eatings!